Maladaptive psychological traits are known to contribute to the development and maintenance of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Less is known, however, regarding the relationships between positive psychological attributes (PPA) and IBS. Accordingly, we completed a systematic review of the literature examining relationships between PPA and IBS.
Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria, we systematically reviewed the literature from inception through April 27, 2021. Quality was assessed with the NIH Quality Assessment Tool. A narrative synthesis of findings, rather than meta-analysis, was completed due to study heterogeneity.
Nineteen articles with a total of 3,546 IBS participants met inclusion criteria. IBS individuals report significantly lower levels of PPA (e.g., resilience, self-efficacy, subjective well-being) compared to healthy controls, and these attributes, among others, are associated with physical and psychological health, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Resilience was the most common PPA examined. Biological mechanisms, such as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction, may explain relationships between PPA and health.
PPA are lower in IBS patients than in healthy controls, and when present, are associated with improved physical, psychological, and HRQoL outcomes. Interventions to cultivate PPA may have the potential to improve key IBS-related outcomes.